Japanese Military 'comfort Women': Reconstructing Identities, Shifting Boundaries

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 3:45 PM
Room: 502
Oral Presentation
Na-Young LEE , Sociology, Chung-Ang University, Seoul, South Korea

This paper explores how Japanese military ‘comfort women’ (Japanese military sexual slaves) have de/reconstructed their own identities as negotiating boundaries of nation, state, gender, and political ideology. Based upon ethnographic field research, various documents, and women’s testimonies, I analyze how women, who suffered both from the Japanese military sexual slave system during Japanese colonization in Korea and from Korean patriarchy system that has continued even after national liberation, have transformed their own identities from victims to transnational activists and from hidden ghost to historical subjects, while have been actively engaged in transnational women’s movements against imperialism, colonialism, militarism, and patriarchy. Particularly, focusing on the Wednesday Demonstration and the Butterfly Fund led by former Japanese ‘comfort’ women, I will examine what made ‘grandma’(Halmomi in Korean) not a helpless victim but a symbol of peace and women’s rights across time and space.